ICONIC: Lexington, KY’s Lower Cane Run Wet-Weather Storage Project

Starting in 2014, Iconic Energy Consulting spent 18 months working with stakeholders in Lexington, Kentucky, on a major project that stood at the crossroads of three major interest groups: bicyclists, business, and Lexington’s municipal water quality stewards.

Site rendering of a water tank on Lexington, KY's Legacy Trail without aesthetic mitigation. Image courtesy of Scape ©2005.

Site rendering of a water tank on Lexington, KY’s Legacy Trail without aesthetic mitigation. Image courtesy of the Lexington Division of Water Quality and Scape ©2005.

Image courtesy of the Lexington Division of Water Quality and Scape ©2015.

In 2011, a federal judge signed an agreement, called a consent decree, between the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that called for Lexington to make extensive improvements to its sewer systems, principally to address sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) of untreated raw sewage and reduce pollution levels in urban stormwater runoff. An SSO occurs when the sanitary sewer line is blocked or when stormwater enters the sewer line and overwhelms the system.

Lexington was then required to manage 82 remedial-measures projects to be completed over the next 11-13 years. As part of its consent-decree requirements, Lexington has been required to construct multiple wet-weather sewage storage facilities at key locations throughout its sanitary sewer service area. Failure to implement these measures in accordance with the approved compliance schedule would expose the LFUCG to penalties (i.e., fines) stipulated by the consent decree.

One storage facility has been sited for a section of Lexington that will require the relocation of an existing biking/hiking pathway that connects downtown Lexington and the Kentucky Horse Park—the Legacy Trail—just south of Interstates 75 and 64 between Georgetown Road and Newtown Pike. Locally, this area is typically identified as Coldstream Research Park.

Given the site’s visibility and proximity to the newly developed Legacy Trail, LFUCG worked with Iconic Energy Consulting to pursue an opportunity to explore the possibility of combining the site with new public amenities and/or artwork as a visual and experiential gateway to the city.

Final design of the Lower Cane Run Wet Weather Storage facility along Lexington, KY's Legacy Trail, including riparian tree cover, a bioswale, rest rooms, shade, picnic areas, and a budget for a public art installation.

Final design of the Lower Cane Run Wet Weather Storage facility along Lexington, KY’s Legacy Trail, including riparian tree cover, a bioswale, rest rooms, shade, picnic areas, and a budget for a public art installation. Image courtesy of the Lexington Division of Water Quality and Scape ©2015.

Enlisting landscape architecture expertise from New York-based firm Scape, a plan was developed along with a large group of public stakeholders, including representatives from the city’s Parks & Recreation Department; experts in architecture, community development, and the arts; water quality specialists; business; cyclists; and a variety of other interest groups to ensure that the final recommended designs were reflective of both the community’s aspirations and constraints.

The final design for $1.75 million was unanimously approved by the Lexington Urban County Council on December 8, 2015, and is currently under construction. Read more about this project in the Lexington Herald Leader.